There are just a couple of weeks remaining in the 2012-2013 NBA season, which means it’s the time of year when everyone starts talking about awards. Nothing stirs up debate like saying that Player A doesn’t belong on First Team All-NBA as much as Player B. It’s just one of those things that people love to discuss and argue over.
However, one of the awards that always has several deserving candidates, but doesn’t really spark much debate is the NBA’s Coach of the Year. The only thing that is ever really discussed about this is whether a coach that led a dominant team, a coach that survived some sort of adversity within his team, or a coach that led a team to surprising success deserves the award.
When talking about candidates for this year’s award, the usual suspects like Gregg Popovich and Erik Spoelstra definitely deserve consideration. Mike Woodson deserves a serious look for how he’s handled the New York Knicks this season. Mark Jackson and Kevin McHale both have led their teams to surprising seasons, which puts them in the conversation for the award.
One coach that hasn’t garnered much buzz in this conversation though is Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins. The Grizzlies currently have the fourth-best record in the Western Conference right now and have already won 52 games. That alone probably warrants Hollins at least some consideration.
However, the Grizzlies haven’t had what you would call the most normal season. Right at the end of January, the Grizzlies traded away Rudy Gay, arguably one of their best players. Before leaving, Gay was Memphis’ leading scorer at 17.2 points per game and also averaged 2.6 assists, 5.9 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. That’s a lot of production they shipped out to not get a player of that caliber in return.
The crazy thing is that the Grizzlies are still 23-10 since the departure of Gay. Though there have been several players that have stepped up since then, Hollins deserves a ton of credit for how he’s managed his team without his star. He has kept his guys playing smart, gritty and the way they need to for them to be successful.
Hollins has not only led his Grizzlies squad to another successful season, but he has also overcome some pretty incredible odds to do so. He lost one of his star players to a trade mid-season and has still led his team onto win more than 50 games this year. That has to be worthy of at least some thought for Coach of the Year.